Worker from Belmont Community School, Durham, stole £2,500

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The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter (Durham)

A SCHOOL worker who was trusted to bank money has been spared jail despite stealing more than £2,500 from her employer.

Part of Sarah Colledge’s job at Belmont Community School, in Durham, was to deposit money at the Post Office.

However, 13 times between March 15, last year, and February 1, the mother-of-four pocketed some or all of the cash.

In total, the 45-year-old, who worked in the school’s reprographics team, stole £2,597.10.

At Peterlee Magistrates’ Court today (Wednesday, February 27), Colledge, who pleaded guilty to one charge of theft, was spared an immediate jail term but given an eight-week prison sentence suspended for 12 months.

Magistrates also ordered her to repay the full amount stolen as compensation, plus £85 court costs and an £80 surcharge.

Colledge, of Maple Avenue, Sherburn Road Estate, will also have to carry out 100 hours of unpaid work.

Sentencing, presiding magistrate Alan Lawson told her: “It was a position of a high degree of trust and you broke that trust. The theft did not stop until you were actually caught.”

But he added: “We’re not going to send you to prison today.”

Penny Bottomley, prosecuting, said the first offence took place on March 15, when Colledge stole £30 of a £420 deposit.

She went on to steal cash on March 16, October 12, five times during December, four times during January and, on February 1, Colledge took the entire payment of £441.80, Miss Bottomley added.

The theft came to light when the school noticed difficulties with accounting and Colledge admitted taking the money during a disciplinary procedure, she continued.

Mohammed Aftab, for Colledge, said his client had encountered problems meeting day-to-day living costs and intended to repay the money, but this became increasingly difficult.

“She realises that she’s breached the trust the school placed in her. She realises she made a mistake. It was a grave mistake. As soon as she’s got the money, she will pay it back,” he said.

Afterwards, Judith Wilkinson, the school’s headteacher, said: “The member of staff in question, a member of our reprographics team, no longer works at the school.

“We have co-operated fully with the investigation and are pleased the matter has now been resolved.”

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